It may seem unfathomable for some that something as big as a whole city can be lost forever, only to be rediscovered in the future and in some cases never to be found at all. But throughout history large inhabited cities have been abandoned or lost or just disappeared from the face of the earth.
When discovered these cities act as time capsules, containing the information of the people and the civilisations that prospered in them. Some lost cities are rediscovered but some are never found and become legends.
Here is the list of ten such cities which have captured the imagination of adventurers, explorers and archeologists.
10. The City of Caesars
This city which is also known as the Wandering City or the City of Patagonia is said to be located in the southern part of South America in an area which is known as Patagonia. The legend says that this city was extremely rich and prosperous with huge deposits of gold, silver and diamonds. According to one description there were two mountains surrounding the city, one of which was made of gold and the other was made of diamonds.
The city is said to have been founded by the survivors of a Spanish shipwreck and is said to be an enchanted city which appears in only certain moments and then disappears. During the colonization of the South America there was extensive searches for the city but it was never found and neither did any evidence that supports its existence.
9. Cliff Palace
The largest Cliff dwelling in North America, Cliff Palace was constructed by the Ancestral Puebloans and is located in the Mesa Verde National Park which is their previous homeland. Carbon Dating and other age determining procedures indicate that the construction phase of this city was continuous from c. 1190 CE to c. 1260 CE, and it was built in a period of almost twenty years.
This locality had one hundred fifty rooms and more than twenty kivas (places of religious rituals) and is remarkably preserved. The Cliff Palace was abandoned nearly 1300 years ago and there’s still no solid proof of why it was abandoned but some experts believe that megadroughts might be the reason.
A strongly fortified city and a naval power of its time, Troy stood on a hill near the river Scamander in modern day Turkey. Heinrich Schliemann discovered Troy in 1870s proving that this city is not a myth and that there were numerous other cities located in the same site built one over the other.
Troy became famous due to two reasons; one due to the legendary poet Homer and the other due to the fact that it was the place of the Trojan War. As a result of years of digging and looting the excavation site of Troy is not as impressive as one might think due to its grand past.
7. Akrotiri Santorini
Destroyed in 1627 BC by the Theran eruption and buried deep in volcanic ash, Akrotiri is a Minoan bronze age city located on Santorini, a Greek volcanic island. The excavation of the city started in 1967 and it was found that the volcanic ash had preserved the remains of murals and many other objects of arts.
The excavation also revealed a well planned city with three stories high houses and a sophisticated water supply system which supplied both hot and cold water. The hot water was supplied from the volcano which resided besides the city and this very volcano destroyed the city in a record breaking explosion.
6. The Lost City of Z
Famous British surveyor, Col. Percy Harrison Ford came to know about a lost city in deep in the jungle of Mato Grosso, Brazil through a manuscript in the National Library of Rio de Janeiro, believed to be written Joao da Silva a Portuguese traveler who visited the city in 1753. According to Joao de Silva the city had multi-level buildings, high stone arcs and wide streets.
Col. Fawcett first set out an expedition in 1921 but the jungle and the hardships got the better of him and his team. Then in 1925, with sponsors like the Rockefellers and the Royal Geographic Society he went on his final expedition in order to find the city. This time however, Col. Fawcett never returned, he just disappeared in the forest without a trace.
5. The Lost Desert cities of Dubai
Dubai may seem like the last place on earth to have lost cities, but historians know it to be a fact and through written records. One of the most well known lost city is the city of Julfar, the magnificent Arabian sailor Ahmed ibn Majid hailed from this city. The famed character of Sindbad also allegedly belongs to the city of Julfar.
The original site of the city was discovered by archaeologists in the 1960s, Julfar was a port city and was said to be located on the north of Dubai on the Persian Gulf coast. Julfar was shows signs of inhabitants as early as the 6th century.
4. The Lost Land of Lyonesse
Believed to be have been sunk into the sea, Lyonesse is the mother country of Tristan in the legend of Arthur. The city of Lyonesse was considered a great power of its time while it was on above ground and it became famous through the story of Tristan and Iseult.
There is proof that Lyonesse is not just a myth or a legend but a real city which was sunk into sea a long time ago. The year of the sinking of the city is estimated to be November 11, 1099.
3. El Dorado
Known as the Lost City of Gold, El Dorado is famous worldwide through documentaries and movies. People of all sorts have been searching for this mysterious city from archaeologists and historians to tomb robbers to treasure hunters.The idea of a city full of gold can be tempting for any human being.
The city of El Dorado is associated with the Musica tribe and their ritual of appointing the new king. According to Juan Rodriguez Freyle “El Canrero” the Musica tribe would bring the king to the Lake Guatavita and then cover the king in gold dust and piles of gold were thrown into the Lake. This perhaps caused the legend of the Lost City of Gold.
The lost city of Aztlan is mentioned in many historical sources from around the colonial period and almost all of them give details of the migration of different tribes from Aztlan to Mexico. Although there are serious doubts about whether the city is real or a myth but historians have guessed the location of the city in either southwest of US or in northwestern Mexico.
According to legend seven tribes lived in the caves of Chicomoztoc and after some time they left the caves and settled near Aztlan. The literal meaning of the world Aztlan is the land of the north, the area where the Aztecs came from.
The famous greek philosopher Plato, wrote about Atlantis in 350 B.C, according to him it was a magnificent city that sank under the ocean in one day and one night. Plato gave detailed description of the city in the two books that he wrote about the city.
Historians, archaeologists and adventurers have been trying to find the city of Atlantis for years. The inhabitants of Atlantis are described as amazing architects and engineers and the city is said to have palaces, temples and docks, while the whole city surrounded by rings of water.